pen and brown ink and brown wash over black chalk on brown laid paper
Bequest of the Honorable James Bowdoin III
Abraham Bloemaert, the co-founder of Utrecht’s Guild of Saint Luke in 1611, helped to make this Dutch city a center of Northern Mannerism. Drawing the human figure was central to this endeavor, and the publication of a popular drawing manual for artists further established his legacy beyond the circle of his students. This quick study of movement is stylistically related to sketches in public collections in Darmstadt, Munich, and Berlin. Thematically, this work shows similarities to a more finished drawing by Bloemaert in the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg, that illustrates the Death of the Niobids, the slaying of the many children of Niobe, who had boasted that her offspring outnumbered those of the goddess Leto. Apollo and Artemis, Leto’s children, took deadly revenge on the whole family. While none of the figures in the Russian drawing directly coincide with those on this sheet, their panic-stricken movements and fluttering draperies are almost identical.